Saturday, September 28, 2013

Skydiving!

A thing about hostels...when I was in my 18-28 age range, staying in hostels was awesome. Lots of like-minded young people from all over the world basically having big coed bunk bed slumber parties every night. And in places like Cairns, beach wear is standard. All pretty awesome! Except I am no longer in that age range. I have too much nose hair, and my eyebrows are getting all bristly.  Lame.  Now the places just make me feel old. They really make me miss the comforts of my own room, comfortable and clean furniture, having places to put my things other than in a bag on the floor with 12 other bags, and not having to have the exact same conversation with 17 new strangers every day (that's what I do at work...). But there is one really good reason that I still stay at hostels when I travel like this. They are dirt cheap. And so when I see a bus drive by that says skydiving on it, and I whimsically decide that I want to go skydiving today, I can afford to do it! So, despite the 24 hr no fly after scuba diving rule (I lied on the release forms...) I spent my extra day in Cairns skydiving! It was wild! Pretty much everything I expected. I wasn't nervous at all about it. But that moment when they open the door and your feet are hanging above 14,000 feet of air between you and the ground, that moment gets the heart beating! The whole thing was such a rush! Well, after the parachute opened it was actually quite calm and relaxing. The loop de loops we did were a rush though! I made it safely to the ground with only injuries to my horribly un-equalized ears and headache inducing blood-nitrogen levels. Totally worth it!

The next day I meandered around cairns for a while before my flight out of Australia. Cairns is a cool place. Definitely the tropical beach party tourist vibe going on there. Only there aren't actually any beaches in the town itself. The place made me miss Lahaina, even though the two aren't all that similar. Every harbor I go to now makes me reminisce on the one I used to call home in little Lahaina town. Anyways, I had a good time there (in Cairns), even went out with some new mates from the hostel. Of course I was the first to leave and go to bed, but I did put forth effort.  This time I had liver disease, at least that's how I explained my Shirley Temple and refusal of the oft offered alcohol.   So I left Aus for what may be the last time ever. I hope it isn't, but thus is my life. I have no idea what I'll be doing next season. But I know what I'm doing now, and it's pretty sweet!











I really need a haircut...

Great Barrier Reef

When I was a young lad one of my favorite things to do was accompany my mother to the library where she would let me pick out a few VHS tapes on history, nature, or the natural world. You know, the David Attenborough type stuff. And one of them that I watched was all about the great barrier reef. For a kid who had never been anywhere other than Utah or Nevada the great barrier reef was about as exotic and exciting as anything I could possibly imagine. It seemed like a whole other world. And I wanted to see it! I mean, we had a fish tank, so I had a pretty good idea what it was like, but then many years later, Finding Nemo came out, and my young aspirations to see this place were renewed, but alas I was not ready. Now many more years later, I have finally been to and scuba dived the great barrier reef! And it was totally awesome!

After my few days in Sydney I flew to Cairns in northern Queensland. I arrived pretty late so I had to call someone to pick me up at the airport and had to do the night check in at the hostel. Just so I could sleep for one night and wake up first thing in the morning to go get on a boat that would take me to the reef and be my home for the next three days! It was about a 2 hour trips from Cairns harbor to get to our little section of the reef. I was shown my quarters and oriented to the boat, had some lunch and then went on my first dive! I was on the boat for two nights and three days and did a total of 12 dives and few snorkeling swims. Now, I have seen a lot of the ocean under the surface in the last few years, as it was my job for awhile, but true to my childish expectations the great barrier reef was second to none! It literally felt like swimming in a giant aquarium! There were heaps of fish, coral, and sea life to see. Everything from reef sharks and turtles to clown fish and crustaceans. I even saw the schools of fish that formed pictures to help Nemos dad. Though they didn't make any cool pictures for me...I don't speak fish. As anyone acquainted with the depths of the ocean knows, the deeper you go the less light there is, which equals less color. So in this regard only did the film Finding Nemo rate better than the real thing. While I was on the boat I opted to get my advanced diver certification, because, well...why not?! So I did some deep water dives and learned new underwater navigation skills, among other things. I've come along way since illegally acquiring some dive gear and going diving un-certifed with friends back on Maui! Apparently I'm good at scuba diving. This makes sense though, as I've always felt less awkward in the water than I do on land. So the whole thing was pretty cool. I'm super stoked about everything that I did and saw out there. And the crew outnumbered the passengers which was actually kind of nice. They were pretty loose on the rules and timetables and whatnot. 

Then it was back to land. I needed to spend a day in Cairns before flying so I was back at the hostel again. 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 







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Now, what's next on my bucket list...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jindy To Sydney

I will spend only one day here in Sydney this year, and the stark differences between little Jindy and Big Sydney are still quite...stark.  I left Jindabyne on a school bus, only ride I could find.  I felt like the new shy kid sitting in the front of the bus all by myself.  Weird, at least no one tripped me or twisted my nipples.  Then it was another bus from Cooma to Canberra, and a train to Sydney.  There are more people in Sydney...lots more. It's a bit bigger than Jindy too.  This marked the first time in over three months I had gone anywhere except Jindabyne and Perisher.  A bit shocking.  I like Sydney though. 

I grew up in a small town, and overall I think I prefer it that way.  But I have lived a bunch in a medium sized city, Salt Lake.  And SLC and Sydney are not very much alike.  There are actually a diversity of people here.  There is an ocean here.  There are super fancy places to eat and everyone is dressed up all nice like.  I like that part, I always like excuses to suit up and go out, back home there just aren't that many opportunities for it.  And as a single man only slightly past my prime, it's nice seeing all the ladies dolled up in fancy dresses.  Nothing against jeans and a blouse Utah girls...

As I walked around last night I couldn't help but think about how being a ski instructor has given me so many opportunities to do and see some cool things.  At the same time though, walking passed fancy restaurants with fancy wine glasses and large, yummy, dead oceanic creatures on the tables sat around by sophisticated well dressed night goers revealed a down side to the ski instructor life.  You see, I was on my way to Hungy Jacks!  To get myself a delicious prefabricated hamburger.  Then I walked passed a Hilton, a Marriot, and some other super fancy digs on my way to the hostel, where I shared a room on a rickety bunk bed with 11 other international travelers. (they were on different bunk beds, not that kind of hostel)  Ski instructor...pros and cons.  Honestly though, I'll take the cons, because the pros are about to prove how pro they are!

For the next month or so, I'll try to blog my travels, for all 7 of you that care.  That's you mom!





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Day In the Life of a Perisher Kids Ski Instructor

Working as a children's ski instructor has often led me to ponder the similarities to parenthood that the job poses. In some regards, being a parent seems way more intense and difficult than being an instructor, the big one being nighttime. You see, I don't ever take any of these kids home with me! But other aspects also seem much more difficult. To try to portray these similarities and differences I will now give you a timeline of a typical day for me here at Perisher Kids Ski School. And just to give you an idea what I do everyday (it's not all parenting related). Though to be honest, I'm picking a rather difficult day, the easy days aren't as interesting. 

630 Wake up. Every day no matter what, I wake up at 630. My alarm is set for 659. Stupid internal clock has been off all season. I lay in bed until the alarm goes off...
659 the alarm goes off and I hit snooze a few times. Hoping that through sheer strength of will I can slow time enough to give me a few more minutes of sleep
730 realizing that I haven't fallen back asleep and that I now have only a few minutes to get ready for the day I jump out of bed.
735 do an ancient aboriginal wee wee dance that simultaneously makes my housemate get out of the shower and plugs the inevitable and uncontrollable flow of urin attempting to burst through the Urethra Dam.
736 turn on all the hot water faucets in the house
737 wait at the door to the bathroom as Andy curses the insufficiency of our hot water heater
738 Release the flood! Groans of relief emanate from my very soul
739 vow that tomorrow I will get out of bed earlier so I can pee before Andy gets in the shower
740 do something else in the bathroom
745-750 now cram all the get ready for the day stuff into a 6 minute scramble of frantic eating, dressing, weather checking, and making mental notes to take out the trash after work.
751 Power walk to the spot where my carpool picks me up.
800 ponder about why I am always so worried about being late for carpool even though not once all season has my ride been on time.
805-825 Watch the kangaroos, emus, echidnas, wombats, cows, horses, and sheep through the windows as we drive through the snowy mountains to Perisher valley, all while listening to Georgia giggle and tell stories about funny things she has eaten and the times she weed in her pants. Georgia is still drunk from last night
825-845 Play a game of locker room twister. The catch is that while you are wrestling 100's of other instructors to get around the locker room you've got to simultaneously be putting on all your ski gear and carrying skis/snowboards around without killing each other. It's tight in there...
850 Leave the locker room and cross the bridge to line up. Silently curse the weather, because when I got out of the car it was sunny, now it's raining.
855 go back into locker room to get rain coat.
900 arrive at morning line up. Supervisors tell us it's raining and to try to stay dry. Chuckle at the funny joke, then realize it's not a joke. Learn assignment for the day, die a little inside because I'm assigned to 5 year old beginners.
905 Rain coat is soaked all the way through.
910 The masses encroach us as the gate to let the parents and their children in is opened
915 Loose all hope that I will only have a few children in my class, as the 9th kid walks up with parents
915-945 This time is spent simultaneously trying to calm down children who are suffering severely from separation anxiety and parents who are suffering from the same thing. Loosely organize the 47 children into three groups, based on who is crying, who is wearing coat A or coat B, and who isn't already throwing snowballs at me.
950 finally have groups sorted, only 13 kids in my class today, piece of cake. Now start the battle with other instructors and their groups for the limited flat ground space and teaching mattes.
1000 Start teaching
1001 Console crying child
1002 pick up 12 kids who are on the ground
1003 late kid shows up
1004 put 21 gloves back on wet kids that took them off, because they are wet
1005 pick up 9 kids who are on the ground
1006 console crying child
1007 late kid shows up
1008 put 7 pairs of goggles on kids
1009 Re adjust 20 ski boots, it's not the parents fault, they've never put on ski boots before either
1010 pick up more kids, back is already sore

Well, from here lets just skip ahead a little, this goes on for awhile

1100 For the first time all day, all 15 children have two skis on their feet, and they are all standing up at the same time.
1101-1130 This is the time when I attempt to teach children how to move around with skis on their feet. Walking with skis on is super simple for me. You just have to stand in a wide stance, bend your knees and ankles a little whilst inclining your ankles to the inside so that each ski is in an edged position while taking small steps forward. Simple, why can't they do it. Three days later one kid will be able to do it. So...instead of a group of kids that can independently move about, I push them around one by one as we practice straight gliding in an insufficient space. By this point every child has either asked if it's time to go home yet, or told me they want mommy.
1130-1145 We play in the slush and build a snowman...thingy.
1145-1215 I now have 30 glorious minutes to walk 15 children through ankle deep slush, down a precarious concrete staircase, and into a jam packed lunch room. Take off 30 soaking mittens, 15 helmets, 15 ski school bibs, and 15 coats. Wring out all the gloves and put them in a dryer with 300 other soaking wet, snot filled, slobbery gloves and then get 15 drinks, lunches, and desserts for 15 children. Open wrappers, clean up spills, cut food into pieces, make 7 sandwiches for the 7 kids who don't want to eat what is for lunch today. Then clean everything up while 150 children wrestle and fight over 5 toilets. Tell 9 kids that they have to go to the toilet even if they don't have to. Zip up 11 pant zippers, 6 of which are soaked in wee. Find all the correct gloves out of the dryer. Find the 5 children who have yet to emerge from the toilets. Tell three parents they can't come in here and no I don't know where Suzy is. She is not in my class. Before putting all those clothes back onto 15 restless and soaking children I attempt to eat my own lunch. Dress 15 kids back up into their coats, bibs, helmets, goggles, neck warmers, and wetter than before the dryer gloves. All this is done of course in a room so full of people it feels like a Yo Gabba Gabba concert. True chaos.
1245 actually make it back to our skis, but not until after 4 kids spot their parents and are now crying uncontrollably.
1300 All kids now have skis on again, start picking up all the kids that have fallen over while I have been putting on the other kids' skis
1315 All kids are now at the top of the magic carpet. Pick up all the kids who got there first and have fallen over
1400 Since none of them can stop themselves, I have finally finished taking them each down the hill one at a time, putting them back on the magic carpet and hiking back up the hill to bring down the next child. I am soaked through, now it's mostly from the sweat. Every child has now had one go skiing down the hill.
1430 By my estimations, I have now picked up off the ground roughly 700 pounds of wiggly wet child meat. My back is still sore. Two of the kids can stop in a wedge and make it down by themselves. My sense of self worth and personal achievement break through the rain clouds in a ray of glorious pride and relief
1435 The maximum threshold of 50% crying children has been reached. So the skis come off and we do a silly monkey train back inside to get some hot Milo. Once inside proceed to take off 30 wet gloves and 15 helmets. Serve 15 cups of Milo. clean up 5 spilled cups of Milo
1500 After running out of ways to keep 15 five year olds entertained while sitting at a table and getting them all dressed again we head back outside. The rain has stopped, and there is a small riotous crowd of parents forming around the perimeter of the ski school learning area. They are all dry, they've been inside all day.
1515 After getting each child one more go down the hill as a good show tfor he crowd, we finally take off our skis for the last time as parents are let in to collect their children
1515-1530 I sign out the children to their parents. I explain to three sets of parents that no, it would not be a good idea to take your child up the chairlift, they still cannot stop by themselves. One of those parents is upset and angry and asks what we did all day if their kid can't even stop. Chase down two parents who collected their children without signing them out. For the most part parents and children are grateful at this point, but of course it's the one parent that called you worthless for not teaching their kid how to stop that resonates in my head for the rest of the day.
1535 the last child is finally picked up, all my desires to go free skiing after work now shattered, I head back to locker room to play instructor twister again, this time though everyone is soaked and the ski boot stench makes for a pleasant aroma in the room.
1600 Now driving home we all share our daily horror, unbelievable, and funny stories from the day. It's an unintentional attempt to one up each other on who had the worst day. Complain a little about Perisher and share ideas on how to make it better. Personally, I feel a bit of failure, you just can't teach much to a class of 15 five year olds on such a busy, rainy day. Make a mental note that the first person to complain to me about the max group size of 3 children at Canyons is going to get an unwelcome reply from me in the form of laughing in their face.
1630 Stripped of all wet underclothes, I am now asleep in bed. I will wake up in 45 minutes or so, and make some delicious spaghetti. Then lounge around for awhile
2100 Go out with friends, watch silly drunk people do stupid things, and take mental notes on who is hooking up with who tonight, as the only sober person in town I have way more gossip than anyone else!
2300 Go home, drunk people are getting annoying
2330 Sleep, so I can do it all again tomorrow.

Of course, on this particular day no kids just up and ran away.  I didn't loose anyone because they followed the wrong instructor.  No one fell off a chair lift (this only happens while getting on/off, not too serious).  I didn't accidentally feed a kid food he is deathly allergic to.  I didn't have to change any diapers and there were no code yellow/browns to deal with.  So, it was actually a pretty dang good day!  And you know what, I absolutely love it and can't imagine doing anything else!  A child sliding down snow with a huge smile and cute giggles...priceless.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chapters

Over the last 6-7 years my life has been a series of chapters. Situations and locations that never last longer than 7 months at a time. Since I finished college in 2007 I have not stayed in the continental US for longer than seven months at a time. Alaska, Hawaii, and Australia have all taken turns with Utah as the places I call home. So I'm now used to ending and starting new chapters in my life. And another one of those chapters is ending today. Today is my last day in jindabyne. As per usual...I'm pretty bummed out about leaving. I had a great time here this season. I made lots of new friends and saw lots of old friends. The skiing wasn't epic on account of my broken knee, but overall it was a pretty awesome season. The uncertainty of my return makes leaving more difficult as saying goodbye for possibly the last time ever isnt something I enjoy. The bond between ski instructors that go through a whole season together in a tiny town like this is pretty strong, and for a few people in particular, saying goodbye is downright depressing for me. I kinda really got a thing for someone I may never see again. That's a major buzzkill...  Oh my poor lonely heart... Anyways whatever, the end of this chapter also means the beginning of another. And over the next month I am going to cross off numbers one and two on Dallon 's bucket list. And that, is pretty dang exciting. Then I'll make my way back to Utah for winter just like I do every year. This season will be different as canyons resort is now owned by vail and it looks like I'll be a salaried big shot ( way to go college!).  So that could be good.
I'd liketo reflect on this closing chapter a bit though. It was much more pleasant being a second year guy at Perisher. 10 or more kids in a class didn't freak me out and I didn't have to do self surgery on any ingrown toenails this season. I had way more friends with vehicles so I only had to hitch hike to/from work a few times. I only had to share an apartment with one guy, my buddy Andy  though that made for less interesting and awkward moments compared to the six of us plus 'partners' living together last year. I went 'out' a lot more this year. I am officially the most sober man in Jindy. Which is fun because I remember everything everyone did last night when no one else does. Plus I got to drive a lot of people home each night, that's always interesting. I participated in the mini mite program this year. Every Sunday for 11 weeks I was responsible for 6 3-4 year old boys. I taught them how to ski, they taught me that I only want daughters. Each one of them was adorable and precious, all of them together...well, that was an absurd nightmare. I basically became famous as the instructor that had to deal with Lincoln, Charlie, charly, luka, Christian, and will. Teaching a feral pack of kittens how to ski (safely) would have been easier. It was challenging. In the end though, I loved those tyrants and would totally do it again.
A certain semisonic songs plays in my head as I end this chapter and begin another, and I wonder, as I always do...what will happen now!?